Thursday 31 March 2016

Going Out LIke a Lion

     March came in like a lion and I think we can confirm it is also going out like a lion. Although it wasn't cold today (11C) it was quite miserable - rainy and windy. I even found the garage door blown open this afternoon. So it has been quite miserable today. When will Spring show its face?

    A quiet morning and then Bridge this afternoon with Bonnie, Marilyn and Pauline. I had terrible cards and, although I had a couple of contracts, I went down (badly!) both times. I had planned to eat out with the RODEO group of ladies from Probus, but wasn't able to find someone to take my place so had to cancel the lunch plans.  As it happened, one of the other tables had a couple of no shows and one of them could have taken my place. Well, that's life!

    Delicious dinner tonight. I was getting sick of leftover lamb so took a basa fillet out of the freezer and made a fish pie with lots of vegetables. I had it with my homemade beetroot. I also made some cheese straws with the leftover puff pastry. For lunch I made soup but didn't get a chance to try it as I was out over lunch. I will save it for tomorrow.

Tuesday 29 March 2016

After the Festivities

     We have had a few cold but sunny days (yesterday not so much) and I am sitting in the family room with the sun on my back, enjoying its warmth. Outside the temperature is around 5C but in here it is toasty warm. No need for a fire today! I planted some pansies in my porch planter and they seem to have survived a couple of frosty nights so should be good until Spring gets here.

   On Sunday, when the family were over for Easter lunch, we were even sitting outside for a while with no jackets. The sun had some real heat to it. The grandkids had fun hunting for chocolate eggs while the adults indulged in snacks and pre-prandial drinks. Then we repaired to the dining table for our meal. Cabbage soup with sour dough bread (a touch of the Irish left over from St. Patrick's Day), Judy's Greek salad, and roast lamb, mint sauce, gravy and vegetables, mashed potatoes and lemony green beans. I must say everything was delicious. Dessert not so much - it was an experiment but it didn't turn out so well. I won't be making "The English Kitchen's" recipes again! Luckily Judy had brought a tin of Italian puff pastry cookies and Lindort truffles so we didn't go without a little something sweet.

   Monday was also a holiday for some and I spent it clearing and restocking the dishwasher and generally recovering from the hectic day before. Today I had tennis in the morning and Bridge this afternoon so was pretty much on the go all day. A quiet evening is anticipated. I will eat the leftover lamb and veggies and struggle through a slice of the now infamous cake. I think I will just eat the topping and discard the rest - it was like a doorstop! Luckily there was also wine left over so I am feeling quite mellow now.

Friday 25 March 2016

Good Friday

   Still wintry out there - when I went out this morning with the garbage I was crunching through a considerable layer of ice. The car is in the garage again, melting off a layer of ice that almost prevented me from opening the door. I had to drive it in there blind as I couldn't even open the window. There were a few blinks of sun this afternoon but not enough to melt the ice, and the temperature stayed around zero all day.

     Since it's Good Friday and I don't attend church, I am going with the saying "Cleanliness is next to Godliness" so a few more cleaning chores. This is the cleanest the house has been since before Christmas. My usual routine is to keep things tidy but a good cleaning doesn't happen very often. I have too many other things to do!

   On Wednesday I vacuumed up and down and today I wiped down the kitchen cupboards, swept the wood floors up and down including the stairs and cleaned one bathroom. The rest I will do on Sunday while the leg of lamb is roasting. I also made a big batch of soup for Sunday and baked a soda bread. The lamb leg is currently defrosting and I will marinate it tomorrow.

   Liver with onions and mushrooms for dinner tonight and I tried a slice of the soda bread. It's rather dry so I may have to pick up an alternative for Sunday. Luckily there's still one more shopping day!



Thursday 24 March 2016

Ice Storm

    Last night, having checked the weather and having sober second thoughts I did put the car in the garage. This morning everything was coated with ice but I had an easy start to my drive. Before leaving I salted the path and a bit of the driveway - can't have the mailman falling on my property! At least it wasn't as bad as the great ice storm of 2014 when the power was out for some people for days.
   The main roads (and my street) had been well salted so driving was OK but only 30 people showed up for the Probus meeting (we usually have over 100). The speaker was from Habitat For Humanity and very interesting. I never knew they had stores, The Restore, where people can donate building materials and used appliances. I got quite a big load of books from the book sale since there were so few there - all my reading materials for the next month.

  Straight from there to Bridge - only two tables showed up but all our group were there. Sheila was my partner but we had very poor hands and only made a couple of contracts. Pinkie and Mary-Lee were in their element, in fact they had a couple of small slams. We were very jealous! I will play with them again next week.

   I added some chopped cucumber and red pepper to last night's pasta salad  and it was nice and crunchy. With the leftover fish I had a tasty meal but will need a snack, probably fruit, later in the evening.  

Wednesday 23 March 2016

Using My Imagination

     Fire on again tonight as it is cold and damp. The forecast snow has not yet materialized but it is doing something out there - could be freezing rain or just plain rain. We won't know until we wake up tomorrow morning. I have decided to take a chance and leave my car out in the driveway. I may be scraping it before I can go anywhere tomorrow!

    I made an interesting dinner tonight with a basa fillet. I dusted it with seasoned flour (I used a mix of Herbe de Provence and Za'attar) then fried it in a little butter. After I flipped it I topped it with my homemade Mediterranean chutney and let it cook covered for another couple of minutes. I had it with some Greek pasta  that was reduced in price (by nearly half!) at the drugstore, so had a Mediterranean theme going. It was delicious although the pasta was rather high in sodium. But I only ate half of it and will have the rest tomorrow. 

Tuesday 22 March 2016

Seize the Day!

     Currently 4C which is as high as it's got all day. At least the forecast snow didn't materialize. I haven't been using the gas fire much recently but I had it on tonight to take off the chill. It looks like March not only came in like a lion but will also be departing like a lion instead of a lamb!

    Off to tennis at Hendrina's by 9:30 a.m. and we had a couple of good hours on the court (well, actually 1 1/2 hours as we took frequent breaks). Carol suggested we add another morning next Fall and we have tentatively agreed to set aside Thursday mornings for a second session. This works for me as I have decided to drop Thursday morning yoga in preference to Zumba Gold which is an afternoon class.

   Straight from Bayview and Steeles to Warden and Ellesmere via the highway to get to the community centre by 12:30 for RTO Bridge. It was fun, especially as there is free coffee and cookies. I made a couple of fairly serious errors and got gently scolded but no one is too serious even though there is money on the line. Needless to say I didn't score well enough to win anything but then neither did any of my partners! 

    I have a morning at home tomorrow as fitness class is over until April so I will get some house cleaning done prior to my Easter visitors on Sunday.

   Butter chicken leftovers for dinner tonight along with rice and green beans. The rest will go in the freezer as two days of one meal is enough for a while.

Monday 21 March 2016

Still Frigid

   Boy, was it cold this morning! Even though the thermometer said 2C, the wind was from the north and bitter. No hanging around outside today. I was out early to Dr. Acker (my rheumatologist), then dropped in at the garden centre for some pansies for my porch planter but I will have to keep them indoors until it warms up a bit, especially overnight.

   After that I went to Metro for a lamb leg for Easter dinner. It will have to go in the freezer but the price was right. This afternoon was Bridge with my regular foursome and we had some interesting hands. I also got invited to join a group on Thursday so, lots of Bridge this week. Nothing much else going on as the classes are all finished until April.

Sunday 20 March 2016

Handy Gadget

    Cold today with a frosty start of -4C and it didn't warm up much all day although the sun was shining. I used my immersion blender twice today, once to blend cabbage soup for lunch, and again to make the sauce for Butter Chicken for dinner. I am really spoiling myself today!

    The soup was super easy - just a potato, half a chopped onion and  half a cabbage. I cooked all the vegetables in a chicken stock with some celery salt and pepper. It turned out very well. I may serve it for Easter lunch next weekend. I wonder of the grandkids will like it?

   The sauce for the butter chicken had onion, garlic and mushrooms with half a can of tomatoes - also super easy. Once it has cooked for a couple of hours, I will blend it and add chicken thighs to cook for another hour. I will serve it over rice with green beans on the side. Tasty and nourishing!

   Just one date today - the demo team practice at Broadlands this afternoon. We learned the dances that will be performed by the demo team on Gala Day in May. I don't plan to attend as it's the same day as the Don Mills Tennis Club opening and I don't want to miss that as there will be a free lunch! However, it was interesting to learn the dances which will be done as a medley - a reel followed by a square set strathspey and finishing with a fun dance, "De'il Amang the Tailors". I was pretty exhausted by the time we stopped at 4:00 p.m.

   Just a quiet evening at home watching TV although a couple of my favourite Sunday shows are finished. I'm sure I will find something worth watching.

Friday 18 March 2016

My Kind of Day

    A cool start to the day (5C) and it didn't get much warmer although we had wall-to-wall sun in the late afternoon. I went out to check the garden around 4:00 p.m. and there is lots happening. I think the early departure of any traces of snow will bring us an early Spring.

   Fitness class this morning (followed by coffee and chat, as usual) and Progressive Bridge this afternoon so it was quite a busy day. I am presently watching tennis from Indian Wells and there's a Canadian in the semi-finals so that will be on the cards tomorrow! Other than that it has been a quiet day and leftovers for dinner so no need to cook anything, just a bit of clean up in the kitchen!

Thursday 17 March 2016

St Patrick's Day

   Only got up to 8C today with several heavy rain showers but, although I was out this afternoon, I managed to avoid getting soaked. We had a dancing demo at a retirement home this afternoon, in honour of St. Patrick's Day, and I found it quite exhausting as we had to do all 8 dances with only a couple of minutes between each one. Thank goodness there aren't any more until April!

    Fried fish, sweet potato oven fries and peas for dinner tonight, followed by a clementine and I am stuffed! I think cutting back on carbs is helping to curb my appetite as I do feel full with less.

   No sign of the racoon this morning so it must have moved on.

Wednesday 16 March 2016

A Strange Visitor

    I opened my door to pick up the newspaper this morning and came face to face with a rather sorry looking raccoon! It was right there on the doormat and made a move to come indoors before I slammed the door! It hung around for a while then slunk off but I think it may have been sick as it wasn't acting normally. Usually raccoons are nocturnal and, although I have seen them around, mostly at night, they don't normally come close to the house. I hope it has gone on to other pastures. This is a tricky time of year to have them around as the females are looking for a warm spot to have their babies and can be quite destructive.

   Fitness class this morning followed by coffee and socializing. Then back home to change and pack a lunch before returning for my shift in the kitchen at the Senior's centre. It was very quiet this afternoon as most of the classes are done until April and the Drop-in Card players were rather sparse today. I was very lucky as I had walked over with just a few sprinkles of rain then watched in horror as the skies opened with a very heavy downpour which showed little sign of letting up. Fortunately, when I left for home the clouds had passed over and we even had some sun around 4:00 p.m. The temperature got up to 10C.

   I managed quite well to stay away from the carbs until supper - just a banana with peanut butter and yogurt for breakfast, a cookie with my morning coffee and soup for lunch. However, there were some crackers late in the afternoon and pasta for dinner, quite a big bowl, but I did have a big salad too. So, mostly good choices.

   Just one more chore before I call it a night - look over the dances for tomorrow's demo at the retirement home. I hate to mess up a set and I see Cheryl and I are first couple in several of the dances so I will have to be sure I know them at least!


Tuesday 15 March 2016

Fashion Show

     Cool and rainy but, unlike 2014 at this time of year, no snow! It was an easy start to the day as I had declined to play tennis and was going to the retired teachers' lunch which this month included a fashion show. I had a good start on the low carbs - just fruit and yogurt for breakfast, had no morning snack but it all fell apart once lunch was served!

    The lunch was at a gorgeous facility, Cedarbrae Golf Club. First they brought warm bread to the table to accompany a silky, delicious squash soup. I had two pieces of bread with lashings of butter. Next was broccoli quiche and salad greens, so I guess I have to count the pastry crust. Dessert was petit fours (I had four!) and coffee. To top it off, my supper tonight was scrambled eggs and a croissant. Naughty me! I will try to do better tomorrow.

    The fashion show, put on by Peppertree Fashions from Markham, was lots of fun and the outfits were gorgeous. However, they were all very expensive but I liked the skinny jeans that seem to be popular this year. I bought a beautiful turquoise necklace and immediately put it on as it greatly enhanced my outfit. I know I have lots of things with which to wear it and it was 30% off. We all got another 30% off coupon so I may try to find some nice pants for Spring. Luckily my bank account is looking pretty healthy at the moment!


Sunday 13 March 2016

A Busy Weekend

   Gorgeous day yesterday - up in the high teens and I sat out in the sun for quite some time between bouts of garden tidy up. Lucy was here for the weekend and we had a couple of long walks. She is becoming much better behaved while on the leash.

   The monthly dance at Crescent School last night and I danced every dance but came home with aching feet. It took me forever to fall asleep despite a soak in the tub with Epsom Salts. Lucy kept me company as I tossed and turned. The clocks went forward overnight but I woke up before 9:00 a.m. Steve and Alison came for Lucy around 2:00 p.m. and I headed back to bed and slept until 4:00 p.m. so feel back to normal.

    Not as mild today and overcast with a chilly wind so no time in the garden. I used some chunks of stem ginger lurking in the fridge to make a gingerbread cake which is very tasty albeit a bit crumbly. I sliced it for the freezer but nibbled all the broken bits! Just a bowl of soup for lunch. Leftover stew and cabbage for dinner and still some left for tomorrow, that's three meals for the price of a half pound of beef. Apart from the gingercake today was a low carb day. Good for me!

Tuesday 8 March 2016

It Feels Like Spring

   Out without a jacket for  a few hours this afternoon. I also saw some robins (a sure sign of approaching Spring) and, unbelievably, a woodpecker looking for bugs in my Mountain Ash tree! It was sunny until late afternoon when the temperature started to drop. I walked down to the corner store for a battery for the gas fire remote, and it was getting quite chilly. I had a tour of the garden before the sun went down and there are now lots of shoots appearing.

   Tennis this morning with Hendrina, Swan and Lillian and we had two good sets but ran out of time to finish the third set. I went straight from there to progressive bridge with the RTO group - six tables of very welcoming players and free coffee and cookies!  There were quite a few people there who also play at the senior's centre I attend so it was helpful to have a few familiar faces. I was once again, probably, the weakest player but no one complained and I managed to make a few contracts.

   Nothing exciting for dinner - just some leftover macaroni to which I added onion, a mushroom, some cheese sauce and some peas and, on top, panko breadcrumbs and grated parmesan - very tasty. However, I had some camembert on crackers with grapes before dinner - my special treat!

Sunday 6 March 2016

Baba Ganoush

   Well, the Baba Ganoush was excellent - I won't need to eat for a couple of hours and there's still some left for tomorrow. I'm having liver and onions for dinner tonight so will wait until around 7:00p.m. to eat. It doesn't take long to cook.

   The sun was shining most of the day and the temperature was above zero for a while this afternoon. I sat out getting some of "the D" for about half an hour but it got a bit chilly. The wind was from the south-west but still a bit cool.

   I had an early start today as I had to be on the computer by 7:00a.m. to sign up for the Spring and summer fitness classes. I almost forgot to get up in time but I even managed to get into the Zumba class! It's usually so popular there's a huge waiting list. I didn't sign up for yoga as I found it a bit too hard. I might try it again in the fall.

   I tried to load some photos but for some reason couldn't find where they went - maybe they will turn up in a file somewhere. I wanted to show the snow that will probably be gone by next weekend as the temperatures are forecast to rise in the next day or two with rain.

Saturday 5 March 2016

Two Eggplant Recipes

   Snow again this morning - it didn't lie on the paved areas but the grass and borders are well covered. It will be some time until we see anything green. It's strange how we had virtually no snow cover in January and February and have had as much snow in the first week of March as in the rest of the winter months combined.

    I fancied an eggplant when I was shopping this morning and when I got home with it I had a look through my cook books and on the Internet for some recipes, keeping in mind the pasta I brought home yesterday. My first job was to roast the eggplant, some of it sliced and the rest whole. I used the slices to jazz up the pasta with some fried onion and garlic and a tomato. With  a thick covering of cheese it was returned to the oven to bake until brown and crisp on top. It made a hearty dinner and there's enough for another day.

   When the whole piece of the eggplant had cooled, I scraped out the pulp and processed it with sesame paste (tahini), garlic and lemon juice to make baba ganoush. It turned out really well and I will have it with pita or tostitos tomorrow. I can't wait!

Friday 4 March 2016

Still More Snow

   I woke up to more snow, several cms. but light and fluffy. I cleared a bit before leaving for fitness class but it had almost all melted when I got home, thanks to a bright sun and warmer temperatures. It stayed around zero for most of the day but it felt much warmer. Definitely a sign of Spring!

    I had to call the water heater company this morning as the hot water pressure was almost nil. I only got a trickle of hot water for my shower - thoroughly unpleasant! They will send a technician tomorrow so let's hope he manages to fix it. The water is hot enough, just barely there.

   Bridge again this afternoon but I don't seem to be getting any better. Most people don't mind though I had one complaint about my lack of bidding knowhow. I really must learn some of the conventions. Progressive Bridge, which we play on Fridays, is tricky as we change partners after four hands and everyone has different systems. I play the same way with everyone so I guess they will just have to get used to that.

   I jazzed up my leftovers tonight by cutting up the chicken and putting it in a taco with lettuce and roasted red pepper. It was healthier and quite good that way though tricky to eat. I have trouble folding the wraps. We got a delivery of free food again today as the staff at the Senior's Centre have managed to get their contract settled so were no longer working to rule. I got a pasta dish and two soups - not my favourite, Italian Wedding soup, but tasty nevertheless. I will jazz up the pasta for tomorrow's dinner with more vegetables and extra cheese. It will make for an easy meal!

   I am reading a good book at the moment - "Even Dogs in the Wild" by Ian Rankin. It's a John Rebus detective story set in Edinburgh and from reading his previous adventures I know I'm going to be sorry when it is finished. It's not one of the books for my book club which makes a nice change - I don't have to be thinking about its merits or flaws, I can just enjoy the story. 

Thursday 3 March 2016

A Learning Process

    Snow flurries throughout another chilly day but nothing accumulated. I had an early start as the RTO meeting, which is held a good 20 minute drive for me, started just after 9:00 with coffee, fruit and muffins. So I just had banana, peanut butter and yogurt before I left home. We were done by 11:15 - Bill was chairing and he moved things along quickly.

    Straight to Bridge at the Senior's Centre - Bonnie had brought several muffins from the meeting so we stopped for snacks around 1:30. Bonnie and I were partners and had some good hands although I bid a couple of hands rather badly and got my knuckles rapped (figuratively). I will know better next time. However, it was all done in good fun and we indulged in chats between hands.

   Two good dishes for dinner tonight. I made broccoli and cheese casserole and BBQ chicken in the oven. Both dishes turned out well although the sauce on the chicken was a bit runny instead of sticky enough to coat the chicken thighs. Next time I will leave it uncovered for the whole cooking time. There is enough left over for dinner tomorrow, always a bonus!

   No nap today - I drank too much coffee at the meeting this morning - so I will have an early night, I think!

Wednesday 2 March 2016

Biggest Snowfall of the Year

    I woke up to a winter wonderland this morning but the sun came up and turned everything sparkly. It was only about 5cms. but it was quite windy and had drifted in places to more like 10cms. Since the snowblower battery was all loaded I was able to  get started on clearing the driveway by 8:00 a.m. It took about 40 minutes but that's a lot faster than just shovelling. Luckily I was all ready for fitness class so headed over there right away in case the roads were still messy.

    Only 7 of us showed up and even Maria, the coffee lady this morning, didn't make it. The roads weren't too bad and dried quickly with the sun on them. I made a pot of coffee before class started so we (just Anna and me) were able to have our customary cup of joe after our workout. Straight from there to the library as I had books to pick up and some papers to print for tomorrow's RTO meeting. Then home for a quick change and to heat up some soup for lunch.

    I was back at the Senior's Centre for 11:30 to work in the kitchen but fortunately I brought a book as it was very slow today. We only made $16! Normally it's $35 to $40. I closed up around 2:30 and headed home for a nap. It had been a busy day.

   No cooking tonight as I had fish and turnip from yesterday to eat. This was the turnip left over from Burns' night which I had taken out of the freezer the other day but now it's finally all gone. I am looking forward to something fresh tomorrow!

Tuesday 1 March 2016

March Comes in Like a Lion

   Quite a change in the weather, yesterday was sunny but cold - I was back to my winter coat and an extra sweater - and today was not only colder (-8C) but we had a significant amount of snow, enough to make the roads quite slick as I drove to Hendrina's for tennis. More is forecast for overnight so I will plug in the battery for the snowblower before I go to bed.

   Tennis was fun - we had lots of good rallies and were running all over the court - so I was tired by the time I headed home. Nevertheless, a quick change later and with my lunch in my bag, I was off to Bridge lessons. This was the last of the winter classes so I didn't want to miss it. There were only 12 of us there and Frank made sure we were going to sign up for the Spring session so the class won't be cancelled due to lack of numbers.

   I used a new recipe for my fish meal for dinner. I cooked the fish in a cheese sauce with green onions and roasted red pepper and popped it under the broiler to brown the breadcrumbs on top. It got a bit charred but still tasted good. The Basa fillet I used cost $1.50 and will do me another meal - not too shabby!